By Eileen Persike
Ten days before Christmas, and all through Crescent School, all the students were restless, but everything was cool.
The future business leaders were on their way, to help Ms Pekoc’s first graders say, “Hey!”
To the big guy in red who says ho ho ho, “I’ve been real good, Santa, don’t you know?”
Please bring a puppy, a bracelet, a kitty, a snake.
Rest assured, said the high schoolers;
We’ll get the letters to Santa Claus before you wake!
Rhinelander High School Senior Haley Sisel remembers what it
was like to be in elementary school, looking up to the high school kids who would stop by her classroom. Now, as an officer for Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA/DECA), Haley and her peers are in the position to be the mentors and role models.
“We’ve been doing Santa letters for the past few years,” Sisel said. “The kids love it and get to interact with positive role models and we love coming here and seeing them.”
To prepare her first graders for letter writing, teacher Hilary Pekoc gave the students a quick refresher on what goes into a well-written and polite letter to Santa Claus.
“Please… don’t forget to say “please, may I have a” bunny,” Ms Pekoc told the class. “This is just a practice letter, so you ask for something that you would like Santa to bring you.”
The children began their “sloppy copies” so they could re-write the letters using their best penmanship. When the older students arrived – four young men at first, to the delight of the boys in the class, it was time to think big.
A bounce house. A puppy. A giant robot. A dirt bike, skates and more video games than could be named, were announced with glee and added to the lists. The older students assisted with spelling and punctuation, kept the first graders focused and in their chairs, and relived a time when letters to Santa were are part of every Christmastime preparation.
As much as the high school students enjoyed their time with the youngsters, for some, like Sisel, this project serves a dual purpose. In addition to performing community service projects, members of FBLA/DECA also have competitions. Sisel and a few classmates decided to use the groups’ community service project for their competitive event this year.
“We thought, what could we do that would be really different and that the judges would be wowed by?” She explained. “And then we thought of the Santa letters.”
The requirements for the completion include writing a 30-page paper documenting the hows and whys of the project, among other things.
“We’re also going to take some pictures and videos, interview the kids and ask them whether they would ever consider joining DECA, how were they influenced by the students who came to help with the letters, what did they ask Santa for, and incorporate all of that into our presentation.”
For now the FLBA/DECA students will send those letters to the North Pole before Santa loads his sleigh, filling it with dirt bikes and new pets and takes off and away.